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Showing posts from November 12, 2023

The spectre and the soul: from Derrida to Netflix

  When Derrida wrote Spectres of Marx in the 90s, triumphalist neoliberalism, succeeding the collapse of Communism in the West, was ready to treat Marx and Marxism as an intellectual frolic, of no more importance, now, than Madame Blavatsky. Derrida, to his eternal credit, rediscovered the Gothic vocabulary within which Marx’s rhetoric was immersed, and took the spectre and haunting as ways of mediating a sense that we had somehow missed, as a culture, the alternative future we had worked for and expected. We, so to speak, stood the better angels of our nature up against the wall, executed them, and had the servants drag them away and bury them. In an essay on the “spectral turn” and “hauntology” (that o so 00s term of art), Kit Bauserman, at the Journal of the History of Ideas site, surveys the way ghosts and spirits have returned in the humanities as “pure metaphors” or social phenomena. The idea that Derrida uses the ghost of the spectre as a “pure metaphor” is at the heart of the e

The marriage crisis game

  A funny thing happened on the way to the marriage crisis. In the Reagan years, as Susan Faludi explains in her book, Backlash, a study that seemed to show that college educated women faced a “marriage crunch” in the “marriage market” got saturation coverage in the press, which was well satisfied with the idea that   feminism ruined everything. The numbers were bogus – it turned out that the study that showed the marriage crunch used doubtful assumptions and was disputed by numerous other studies – but it turned out that this didn’t matter. The rightwing phobic reaction to feminism attached itself to the study symptomatically, the way a panicked child might clutch a teddy bear, and it was not about to have its symbol taken from it. Periodically, since, the right has stirred up marriage crises, on the principle that you can never gull the folks too much, enunciated by the immortal words of the Duke and Dauphin in Huckleberry Finn, whose signs advertising “The Royal Nonsuch” conta